Is People’s Power designed to make Georgian Dream look good?
A CRRC Georgia study found that positioning Georgian Dream as more moderate than its spin-off group, People’s Power, increased support for the ruling party.
A popular study suggests that when a person goes for a date, they will be more liked if they take a similar, but slightly less attractive companion with them. Likewise, political parties often look better for their voters when they position themselves against a similar, but less appealing opponent.
This blog shows how the same principle works in Georgia, and how the ruling Georgian Dream party appears to be boosting its support by arguing with its ‘friendly rival’, the People’s Power movement.
In summer 2022, three Georgian Dream MPs announced that they were leaving the ruling party to ‘speak more freely’; in practice, this meant criticising the West, including ‘personal attacks’ on the US ambassador, and suggesting that the West wanted to drag Georgia into war.
More politicians later joined the three MPs, and established the Peoples’ Power movement. Its members remained in the parliamentary majority together with Georgian Dream, which raised questions as to whether People’s Power was a true opponent to Georgian Dream or just a satellite party, intended to advance the ruling party’s more radical policies and boost support amongst anti-Western groups within Georgia’s electorate.
The latter suspicions have been further strengthened by the ambiguous reaction of Georgian Dream’s leadership to the radical anti-Western statements from their new, ostensible opponents. While Irakli Kobakhidze, the ruling party chair, largely endorsed what People’s Power were saying, Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili spoke out against the statements, warning against potential damage to relations with the US.
Even more tellingly, when the foreign agent law was tabled by People’s Power, Georgian dream’s leading figures were quick to express their support for the bill, despite its ostensibly separate roots.
To investigate whether Georgian Dream could expect any benefit from its radical knock off party, CRRC Georgia designed and carried out a survey experiment in November 2022. We randomly split a sample of 1,219 respondents into four groups.
The first, a control group of respondents, were told that politicians from People’s Power had criticised the US ambassador and suggested that the US wanted to drag Georgia into the war in Ukraine.
The second group were told both the above and that Irakli Kobakhidze had issued a note not denying the statement.
The third group was told about People’s Power’s allegations, but added Irakli Gharibashvili’s comment that such statements would weaken Georgia’s relations with the US.
The fourth group was informed about all three statements: the original anti-Western statement from People’s Power, Irakli Kobakhidze’s note which did not contradict the statement, and the opposing comment by Irakli Gharibashvili.
Finally, all respondents were asked about whom they would vote for if elections were held tomorrow.
The data show that the comment that differentiated Georgian Dream from its supposed opponent was most beneficial to the ruling party.
The Prime Minister’s disagreement with the statement increased Georgian Dream’s expected support by eight percentage points: 19% of respondents voted for Georgian Dream on hearing only the anti-Western statement, but on exposure to Gharibashvili’s counter-statement, support for the party reached 27%.
Importantly, this share of the vote is in the population overall, rather than amongst those who would actually vote in an election, suggesting that the actual effect in an election could be much larger.
It is noteworthy that only the counterstatement on its own had a statistically significant effect: neither agreeing with the statement nor hearing both agreement and disagreement changed support for the ruling party in a statistically significant manner.
These findings are in line with similar studies from democracies and less democratic locales: radical spin-off parties tend to benefit the ruling party more than the party that splits off.
In this study, on average only 3% said they would support People’s Power across all scenarios. However, the impact of the statement was significant for the ruling party when they decided to appear less radical in comparison.
Notably, the experiment was conducted with a focus on the country’s Western orientation, which is a matter of national agreement: large majorities support Georgia joining the EU and NATO. It is not clear if the ruling party would still gain support from appearing to be the more attractive option in discussions of issues around which there is less consensus.
While this could have been tested out with the foreign agent law, ostensibly attributable to People’s Power, the ruling party has resolutely put its weight behind the law since its introduction. Whether Georgian Dream returns to positioning itself as more moderate than its spin-off group remains to be seen.
Citizenship in action in the South Caucasus
The population of Georgia on the ideal number of children per familyIn this blog post, we shall have a look at whether Georgians’ views about the ideal number of children per family meet the reality, and how these views differ according to people’s sex, age and settlement type, using data from CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer survey in 2013.
The political climate in Georgia, 2012-2014: Increased nihilism or room for new political actors?
Getting to the streets: Who is more inclined to protest in Georgia?
Georgian Foreign Policy: Continuity or Change?The results of the October parliamentary elections in Georgia have raised questions regarding the future trajectory of Georgian foreign policy. One of the priorities of Georgian foreign policy has been European and Euro-Atlantic integration. Will the new Georgian government initiate major changes and redirect Georgia’s foreign policy that has been supported by the National United Movement? Will Ge...
Youth and Politics in GeorgiaSince 2011, CRRC has been involved in the Memory, Youth, Political Legacy, and Civic Engagement (MYPLACE), a four-year project funded by the European Commission. The project aims at exploring young people’s social participation in Georgia influenced by historical contexts of totalitarianism and populism in Europe. Among others, the objectives of the MYPLACE project include (1) conceptualization of...
The Population of Georgia on "good citizenship"Although many people agree that being “a good citizen” is important, there is a great variety of ideas on what being “a good citizen” means. CRRC’s 2013 and 2015 Caucasus Barometer (CB) surveys asked respondents to rate the importance of the following seven qualities for being “a good citizen”: always obeying laws, supporting the government on every occasion, voting in elections, following traditions, volunteering, helping people who are worse off than themselves, and being critical towards the government. This blog post discusses Georgia’s population’s assessments of these qualities.
Public support for Democracy is on the decline in GeorgiaFollowing the first ever peaceful transition of power in Georgia’s 2012 parliamentary elections, the country improved its position in the Freedom House and Polity IV democracy rankings. Results from the latest polls, however, show that public support for democracy in Georgia has declined over the past few years.
The Fury Before the Storm
The blog analyzes if the special precinct really mattered for the Sagarejo by-elections or wether it was the ethnic voting patterns, which explain the differences.
Attitudes Towards Public Opinion Polls in Georgia (Part 2)Increasing knowledge of and trust in polls are clear challenges for pollsters in Georgia. Even though public opinion polls are regularly criticized, there is still a public demand for them. A majority of Georgians believe that they don't have a proper understanding of how public opinion polls are conducted, but they agree that polls help everyone to better understand the society they live in.
Changes in the Level of Trust and Political Institutions in GeorgiaThis blog post looks at how reported levels of trust in the president, local government, executive government, parliament, the army, healthcare system, police, educational system and courts have changed over the years in Georgia, using CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer (CB) survey data from 2011 to 2015 and NDI-CRRC polls.
People who trust NGOs are more active
How Georgia became an upper-middle income country
Positive Public Attitudes in Georgia
Can’t get no satisfaction. Who doesn’t want to join the EU?
How to buy votes when you can’t buy votes
Before and After the Elections: Shifting Public Opinion in Georgia
Alternating Pasts, Changing FuturesNote: This blog is re-posted from the MYPLACE project's blog. The original MYPLACE blog can be found here.
Electoral Notes- Municipal Elections, 2014
Trust in local government in Georgia
Trends in the Data: Public support for democracy is slowly waning in Georgia (Part 2)This blog post describes a number of tendencies that might be related to the declining public support for democracy in Georgia, using the CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer (CB) survey data.
A look at (in)Justice in Georgia as charges are brought against ex-President Saakashvili
Making Votes Count: Statistical Anomalies in Election StatisticsDirect observation of polling stations is the best method available to ensure the accuracy of the vote, however, election observers cannot be everywhere all the time. Given this fact, the field of election forensics, a subfield of political science, has developed a number of statistical tests to look for statistical anomalies in election returns, which may suggest suspicious election-related activity.
Russia as a threat: the Ukraine crisis and changing public opinion in Georgia
Georgians Have High Hopes but Little Information about the Association Agreement with the EU
Perceptions of Court System Fairness in the South CaucasusAnn Bennett Lockwood, an American attorney, politician and author once said that, “If nations could only depend upon fair and impartial judgments in a world court of law, they would abandon the senseless, savage practice of war”. For many, the credibility of a government is judged by the fairness of itsjudicial system. For instance, Michel Rosenfeld (2001) argued that a fair justice system creates respect and faith in government by saying that, “If a citizen implicitly or explicitly endorses a law or legal regime, the latter can be considered subjectively fair.”
Does public opinion accurately gauge government performance in the South Caucasus?
Nine things politicians should know about Georgian voters
Making energy matters matter: entering the electoral field
Public opinion on Georgia’s EU membership prospects in 2015
Democracy in Georgia
Fatalism and Political Perceptions in Georgia
Spreading the News: File Sharing through Mobile Phones in Armenia
E-transparency in Georgia: A key to faith in democracy?
Seminar Report: Perceptions about Georgia: Leading or Loosing the Struggle for Democracy
Foreign Policy Perceptions in Turkey | new TESEV report
Caucasus Barometer: Unpacking Public Trust in the President
MyPlace Website is up!
Rule of Law in Georgia - Opinions and Attitudes of the Population
Does Refusal to Recognize Elections in Abkhazia Reduce Prospects for Resolution?
Obstacles for Civil Society Development in the South Caucasus
Counting Crowds & Crowds Counting | Jacobs' MethodDuring the last 25 years Georgian capital has experienced a diverse history of political meetings in its central areas including peaceful demonstrations, rallies with radical political demands, “tent towns” and so forth. The higher the attendance, the more legitimate the protests are often seen to be. As a result, the figures themselves usually are contested, sometimes in significant controversy.
Public Opinion about Women in Parliament in GeorgiaSince Georgia’s independence in 1991, the participation of women in Georgian politics has been very low. The number of women in government has diminished since 2004 and currently women comprise only 6% of the Georgian parliament. The reasons behind such statistics can vary from cultural to institutional factors.
Election Day Portal
Testing Mobile Innovation in our Surveys
SMS Survey | First Insights
Election Maps | Who Did Your Neighbors Vote For?
Post-Soviet States’ Democratic Decline: Results from Freedom House Report
The Public's View of Constitutional Reform in Georgia
Georgian get-togethers: Private Problems versus PoliticsIn September 2011, CRRC on behalf of Eurasia Partnership Foundation and EWMI G-PAC conducted a nationally representative survey on Volunteerism and Civic Participation in Georgia. Georgians were asked how often they get together and discuss private problems and politics with their friends and relatives (who do not live in their houses).
CRRC's Media-Monitoring Project: TV Coverage of the Election Campaigns
Analysis of Preliminary Election ResultsIn order to help monitor the fidelity of the October 2016 parliamentary election results, CRRC-Georgia has carried out quantitative analysis of election-related statistics within the auspices of the Detecting Election Fraud through Data Analysis (DEFDA) project. Within the project we used methods from the field of election forensics. Election forensics is a field in political science that attempts to identify Election Day issues through looking at statistical patterns in election returns. This blog post reports the results of our analysis.
Alpha Version of CRRC Data Initiative now online!!!
USAID Political Party Assessment of Europe and Eurasia
Georgian Party Archive: extraordinary Soviet History
Exit Polls | Take Two
Parliamentary Elections in Georgia | ODIHR Observation
Georgian Election | ODIHR Preliminary Report and its Percentages
Georgia post-Election Phone Survey | Quick Review
PFA Report on “Armenia’s 2008 Presidential Election”
Georgia: Women's Participation in Politics
Georgia Post-Conflict Phone Survey | may be a first glance?
Pre-Election Polls | what would be neededWith the election in Georgia approaching fast, polls are beginning to appear every week. Unfortunately, many of these polls are taken at face value. The reality is that at this point there is not a single pre-election poll that has demonstrated credibility. This does not ...
Comparing Civic Participation: Caucasus Data 2007
McCain vs Obama: Caucasus preferences
World Press Freedom | Caucasus does badly!
Public Opinion on the Parliament in Georgia
World Public Opinion: Azerbaijan in Focus
Weak State Institutions | Weak Social Capital?
Exploring Azerbaijani Views on Alternative Energy
Freedom House Report | Democracy in the Caucasus
Caucasus Election Programs in the 1990s
Exit Polls | a good idea?With upcoming elections in Georgia, the attention is back on a theme that otherwise often gets neglected: what does the Georgian electorate want?
Georgia's Performance? | Millenium Challenge Corporation's Meta-IndexWith all the attention on Georgia, it may be interesting to revisit Georgia's most recent performance as seen by international organizations. As it happens, the Millennium Challenge Corporation offers a such an assessment through its annual scorecard, just released last week. This scorecard is a meta-index, drawing on data from the World Bank Institute, Freedom House, IFC, WHO, UNESCO and a few other organizations.
Political Events in Georgia | Source of Dissatisfaction?We normally leave political analysis to the many other qualified commentators. However, given current events, it is interesting to see that our Data Initiative shows that ever since 2004 there was a powerful trend of disenchantment in Georgia. Below, see the responses we received when asking "Do you think that things in our country are moving in the right direction?" Blue is positive, yellow negative. The data is for Tbilisi.
Georgian parliamentary elections 2016 - Gender and ethnic minority representation on party listsThe results of the 2016 Parliamentary elections in Georgia reveal some interesting patterns about the representation of women and ethnic minorities in Georgian politics.
Number of logical inconsistencies in 2016 election protocols declineFollowing the 2016 parliamentary elections, a number of politicians questioned the results based on logical inconsistencies on election protocols. Some of the election protocols, which summarize election results for individual voting stations, reported that more voters had come to the polls than actually cast ballots while others reported that more votes had been cast than voters came to the polling station. While both did happen, the Central Election Commission has made dramatic improvements compared to Georgia’s 2012 parliamentary elections.
Electoral forensics on the 2016 parliamentary electionsIn order to help monitor the fidelity of the October 2016 parliamentary election results, CRRC-Georgia has carried out quantitative analysis of election-related statistics within the auspices of the Detecting Election Fraud through Data Analysis (DEFDA) project.
Three months before the 2016 Parliamentary elections: Trust in the Central Election Commission and election observers in GeorgiaThe June 2016 CRRC/NDI Public attitudes in Georgia survey, conducted three months before the Parliamentary elections, provides interesting information about trust in the Central Election Commission (CEC) and election observers, both local and international.
Back to the USSR? How poverty makes people nostalgic for the Soviet UnionA recent CRRC/NDI survey asked whether the dissolution of the Soviet Union was a good or bad thing for Georgia. People’s responses were split almost evenly: 48% reported that the dissolution was a good thing, whereas 42% said it was a bad thing for the country. Such a close split raised questions in the media about why people took one view or another.
Who makes political decisions in Georgia: What people thinkBidzina Ivanishvili resigned from the post of prime minister of Georgia on November 20th 2013, and in his own words, “left politics“. Speculation about his continued informal participation in the political decision-making process began even before he resigned and still continues. Some politicians think that Ivanishvili gives orders to the Georgian Dream party from behind-the-scenes, while others believe that he actually distanced himself from politics. Politicians, journalists and experts continue to discuss the situation. Meanwhile, a majority of Georgia’s population thinks that Bidzina Ivanishvili is still involved in the governing process and that his informal participation is unacceptable.
Prioritizing the personal: People talk more about personal issues than political eventsIn general people are primarily interested in their own lives, rather than in social or political events. In other words, social and political events will, most probably, be overshadowed by events in one’s personal life. CRRC’s 2015 Caucasus Barometer (CB) survey data provides more detailed insights on this. In this blog post, we compare answers to two CB questions: “When you get together with your close relatives and friends, how often do you discuss each other’s private problems?” and “When you get together with your friends and close relatives, how often do you discuss politics / current affairs?” in Armenia and Georgia.
Taking partly free voters seriously: autocratic response to voter preferences in Armenia and GeorgiaDo voters in less than democratic contexts matter or are elections simply facades used to create a veneer of democratic accountability for domestic and international actors? Within the Autocratic Response to Voter Preferences in Armenia and Georgia project, funded by Academic Swiss Caucasus Net, CRRC-Georgia and CRRC-Armenia aimed to help answer this question, at least for Georgia and Armenia. On October 27, Caucasus Survey published the results of the project in a special issue, available here.
Was the population informed about the constitutional reform in Georgia?After 10 months of discussions, the parliament of Georgia adopted amendments to the constitution of the country on September 29th and overrode the president’s veto on October 13th, 2017. The most widely discussed amendments are about rules for electing the president, self-governance principles, the definition of marriage, the sale of agricultural land to foreigners, the minimum age of judges and the country’s foreign policy orientation. Because of the importance of the amendments, one would expect a high level of awareness among the population. However, despite the public meetings held and media coverage of the issue, according to the CRRC/NDI survey from June 2017, a majority of the population of Georgia was not aware of the constitutional reform process.
Gender (in)equality on TVStereotypes are an inseparable part of every society, and present in many parts of everyday life. Georgian society is no exception in this regard. For example, some professions like teaching are stereotypically thought of as “women’s professions” while others like being a soldier are considered “men’s professions”. The media is considered one of the strongest means through which stereotypes are strengthened or broken. In Georgia, TV is the most important media, given that according to CRRC/NDI data, 73% of the population of the country name television as their primary source of the information. In order to understand the dynamics around gender-based stereotypes on TV, CRRC-Georgia monitored the main evening news releases and political talk shows broadcast during prime time (from 18:00 to 00:00) on five national and three regional channels from September 11 to November 12, 2017 (Channel One of the Public Broadcaster, Adjara, Rustavi 2, Imedi, Maestro, Trialeti, Gurjaani, Odishi) with the support of the UN Joint Program for Gender Equality with support from UNDP Georgia and the Swedish government.
As many Georgians think the West spreads propaganda as RussiaOn 13 February, the United States released its Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community. In it, the significance of Russian influence operations in Georgia were highlighted. Just eight days earlier, on 5 February, a coalition of Georgia’s leading non-governmental organisations made an official offer to support the Government of Georgia, the EU, and NATO in their efforts to counter anti-Western propaganda.
Partisanship and Trust in TV in GeorgiaOne of the outcomes of the stark polarization of news media sources globally is that people tend to align to the media outlets which resonate most with their ideological beliefs. In most cases, consumption of a particular ideological media source can only reinforce one’s beliefs, which might lead to an even further polarization of the audience. These patterns can be characteristic of mass media in contexts as different as, for instance, the United States and Lebanon. As the data from the December 2017 wave of CRRC/NDI survey shows, people in Georgia also appear to be selective in trusting media that aligns with their political beliefs as well.
Budget priorities are similar to people's spending prioritiesGeorgia’s state budget amounted to GEL 12.5 billion in 2018. The Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs; Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure; and Ministry of Education and Science had the largest appropriations at 28.2% (GEL 3.528 billion), 14.5% (GEL 1.815 billion), and 9.5% (GEL 1.186 billion) of the budget, respectively. In the 2018 June CRRC/NDI survey, respondents were asked, “What are your top three priorities for spending, understanding it means cutting elsewhere?” Respondents were provided with a show card and allowed to name up to three answers. This blog post looks at whether responses match up with actual spending, and how priorities vary among different demographic groups.
NGOs in Georgia: Low trust, high expectations? (Part 1)Over the last decade, people in Georgia have reported rather low levels of trust toward NGOs. At the same time, when asked during surveys to assess specific aspects of NGO activities, the answers have usually been positive. This blog post is based on the findings of a survey on attitudes toward NGOs collected by CRRC-Georgia in fall, 2017 for the Georgian Civil Society Sustainability Initiative (CSSIGE). The first part of this blog post looks at the most up-to-date data on knowledge of NGOs in Georgia and reported levels of trust toward them. The second part explores the inconsistency between low trust toward NGOs in Georgia, on the one hand, and quite positive assessments of their activities, on the other hand.
NGOs in Georgia: Low trust, high expectations? (Part 2)As discussed in the first part of this blog post, the results of CRRC-Georgia’s survey conducted for the Georgian Civil Society Sustainability Initiative (CSSIGE) project in fall 2017 confirmed that both knowledge about NGOs and trust toward them is quite low in Georgia. This blog post looks at the inconsistency between low trust toward NGOs, on the one hand, and quite positive assessments of their activities, on the other hand.
Selection of Supreme Court judges: The public’s knowledge and attitudes about the processOn December 24th, 2018, High Council of Justice (HCoJ) of Georgia nominated ten candidates to the country’s Supreme Court. The nomination caused controversy among the representatives of civil society organizations as the nominated judges were either leaders or close associates of a group of judges (so called “clan”) exercising an informal power over Georgia’s judiciary. The HCoJ was enabled to make the nominations due to recent constitutional changes that shifted the right of nomination from the President to the HCoJ...
Are there predictors of not knowing and refusing to answer on surveys in Georgia?Are there variables that predict who is likely to report “Don’t know” or to refuse to answer survey questions more often in Georgia? This blog post looks at this question, using un-weighted Caucasus Barometer 2017 (CB) data for Georgia.
The election environment in minority areas of Georgia is getting worsePost-election polling by CRRC-Georgia suggests that not only are elections most problematic in Georgia’s ethnic minority regions, they are also getting worse.
The 2018 presidential elections, and particularly, the events surrounding the second round, have come to be considered a setback for Georgia’s democratic trajectory. Between the first and second round, it was announced that 600,000 voters would have debt relief immediately following the elections, leading some to suggest this was a form of vote buying. A number of instances of electoral fraud were also alleged. The use of party coordinators around election precincts was also widely condemned.
Georgians are split over the Prosecutor’s Office in GeorgiaOn November 3, 2018 Rustavi 2 broadcasted an investigative film created by the Studio Monitor and Radio Liberty about a suspended investigation of the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia. The film How to subjugate a judge? focused on accusations against prosecutors and judges related to the abuse of power, seizure of real estate, and giving of land to private individuals.
Who doesn’t want democracy for Georgia?After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Georgia adopted western-style democratic institutions. They have never functioned in a fully democratic manner, fluctuating between more liberal and authoritarian tendencies. That is, Georgia is and has been a hybrid regime.
But what do people want?
Pessimism about Georgia’s direction hides room for optimismWhile a large number of Georgians think the country is going in the wrong direction, the fact that they are judging the country’s performance based on issues rather than political partisanship alone is a good sign.
The direction Georgia’s headed inThe most recent NDI polling showed a decline in the direction the country was heading. Though not the direct cause by any means, the growing sense that Georgia is going in the wrong direction was likely an enabling factor for the protests that erupted in June and have continued through July in Tbilisi. The CRRC-NDI survey has tracked the direction people think the country is headed over the last decade. While numerous factors affect people’s perceptions of where the country is going, a number of events including elections and the devaluation of the Georgian Lari against the US Dollar appear to show up in CRRC-Georgia and the National Democratic Institute’s data. This blog provides an overview of how views of the direction the country is headed in have changed over time.
Attitudes toward politicians are related to evaluations of institutional performanceHow citizens evaluate the performance of the state is often a reasonable proxy for its performance. In Georgia, evaluations of public institutions are mixed. While a number of social and demographic variables are associated with people’s perceptions of state performance, so too are people’s attitudes towards political parties and politicians. This shows once again how politics is personalized in Georgia.
What divides and what unites Georgian society?The last year has seen a number of conversations about polarization in Georgia. The President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, even commented on the issue in his Batumi speech. One of the components of polarization, though not the sole factor, is division in society over actors, issues, and institutions.
While many things could divide the public, what do the people think and which groups report more and fewer sources of division? The April 2019 NDI-CRRC poll suggests that there are fewer perceived reasons for division in rural areas and among ethnic minorities.
Government employees assess the work of the government better than the general publicThe outlook in Georgia continues to be increasingly pessimistic, with more people reporting that the country is heading in the wrong direction. Similarly, performance assessments of government institutions have been on the decline in recent years. As recent CRRC analyses have highlighted, party identification, attitudes towards individual politicians, ethnicity, and Georgian language proficiency among ethnic minorities are associated with attitudes towards government. Analysis of the July 2019 CRRC and NDI survey suggests that working for the state is also associated with performance assessments. However, government employees in poor households and those in Tbilisi rate government performance significantly worse.
Knowledge of visa-free requirements falls since launch of schemeGeorgian citizens have been able to travel visa free within the Schengen zone for approaching three years, the result of several years of complex dialogue and policy reform. Despite the elapsed time, and a major EU-funded public information campaign, the results of the 2019 Survey on Knowledge of and Attitudes towards the European Union in Georgia (EU Survey) suggest that public knowledge of requirements for visa free travel have fallen since the scheme launched. Similarly, the same period has seen a large rise in the number of Georgian citizens being denied entry to EU countries, with Eurostat reporting over four thousand such cases in 2018 alone, up over a third since 2017.
Optimism Regarding EU membership is decreasingGeorgia is not a candidate for membership in the European Union (EU), but the government has the stated goal of joining the EU when the country is ready for it. According to the Knowledge of and Attitudes towards the EU in Georgia survey (EU Survey) CRRC-Georgia conducted in spring 2019 for Europe Foundation, 71% of the population of Georgia would vote for EU membership if a referendum were held tomorrow. Only 10% would vote against it and 7% would not vote at all. While support for joining the EU is clearly high, people are increasingly pessimistic about how long it will take Georgia to join.
Georgia’s Foreign Policy Trilemma: Balance, Bandwagon, or Hedge? Part 1Georgia is a small, partly free democracy in a tough neighbourhood, and NATO membership remains an unfulfilled promise. While Russia is widely perceived as the main threat to Georgia’s security, the appropriate strategic or political response to the threat is not obvious. What options does Georgia have when faced with a powerful rival on its border, and what public support is there for these options?
Georgia’s Foreign Policy Trilemma: Balance, Bandwagon, or Hedge? Part 2The first part of this blog post discussed evidence of an association between perceiving Russia as the main threat to Georgia and a preference for a foreign policy that balances against that threat through alliances with the West. The relationship between threat perception and hedging, defined as attempting to maintain good relations with both Russia and the West, is less clear.
The economic and educational consequences of child marriage in GeorgiaWidely condemned as a violation of human rights, child marriage is associated with negative health outcomes — both physical and psychological. Aside from these clear issues, a growing body of research suggests child marriage also has economic consequences for both the women who marry under the age of 18 and society at large.
In a sea of pessimism, who is optimistic about Georgia?The CRRC and NDI survey released two weeks ago showed a pessimistic picture – half the public thinks Georgia is going in the wrong direction, 24% that nothing is changing, and only 19% think it is going in the right direction. A majority (59%) think the country is not a democracy for the first time since the question was asked on the survey in 2010. Moreover, performance assessments of government, parliament, the courts, and most ministries declined.
What kind of electoral system do Georgians actually want?On 8 March, Georgia’s political leaders agreed on a new electoral system under which 120 seats will be allocated via proportional elections and 30 seats will be allocated via direct election of candidates.
The long-fought-over electoral reform was a compromise which represents two steps forward after three steps had been taken back.
As COVID-19 sends political campaigning to Facebook, will polarisation increase?With Georgia in an election year and traditional face-to-face campaigning out of the question given the COVID-19 outbreak, the importance of Facebook in Georgian politics is only likely to grow.
Facebook is an important part of Georgian politics. Political campaigns are fought, and public opinion thought to often be formed on the platform...
The most important issues facing Georgia, prior to the COVID-19 outbreak
There is a gap between support for democracy and liberal values in Georgia
Public opinion polls suggest support for democracy is on the decline in Georgia, but does support for democracy correlate to support for liberal values?
An increasing number of Georgians view their country as ‘a democracy with major problems’, with CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer survey showing the share of people reporting this belief to have increased from 27% in 2011 to 48% in 2019.
In parallel to this growing scepticism towards the country’s democratic situation, surveys show a decline in the proportion of the population believing that democracy is preferable to any other kind of government, falling from 65% in 2011 to 49% in 2019.
Support for democracy increased in Georgia during COVID-19, but what does that mean?
The COVID-19 outbreak generated discussion about whether support for democracy would decline during and after the crisis. While reported support increased, this did not necessarily match support for democratic means of governance.
Data from the CRRC’s COVID-19 monitor shows that more people in Georgia reported support for democracy compared to the pre-crisis period. However, as before the crisis, support for democracy does not seem to be grounded in the values commonly associated with democratic governance.
The rallying around the flag effect in Georgia
In times of crisis, support for governments often rises in what is known as a rallying around the flag effect. The COVID-19 crisis in Georgia has been no exception.
Data from around the world has shown rallying around the flag effects in many countries during the pandemic, with a few exceptions. Georgia has followed this broader pattern, with performance ratings tripling for many actors and institutions between November/December 2019 and May 2020.
Is Georgia really polarised?
Talk about political polarisation in Georgia is easy to find. Some have suggested that the recent United National Movement (UNM) announcement that Saakashvili will be their prime ministerial candidate will only make matters worse.
A new data analysis CRRC Georgia released on Tuesday suggests that this may in fact be the case. Data from several years of CRRC Georgia and NDI polling indicates that there are few ideological or policy issues that the supporters of Georgian Dream (GD) and the United National Movement (UNM) disagree about. Rather, attitudes towards politicians and political events are what divides, a fact the public intuitively recognises.
Georgian voters: personalities, policies, or a bit of both?
While personality in politics matters greatly for the Georgian public, data from this year shows that for Georgian Dream and United National Movement voters, policy is still important.
A recent CRRC Georgia policy brief argued that what was really dividing Georgians politically was personalities rather than policies. Data from the August 2020 CRRC and NDI survey provides further evidence for this idea.
However, the data also shows a difference between Georgian Dream (GD) and United National Movement (UNM) voters in terms of policy preferences and that economic policy is the most important issue for a plurality of voters.
Political campaigning in Georgia: informing or mobilising?
Political campaigning takes a wide range of forms, from digital advertising to door knocking. Generally, campaigning is believed to both mobilise voters to actually go out to vote as well as win over voters, but which is most relevant in Georgia?
Data from the August CRRC Georgia and NDI public opinion poll indicate that people who wanted to be contacted by campaigners also appeared more partisan than others. This may suggest that campaigning in Georgia will be more effective at turning out partisans than persuading the undecided.
Who thinks Georgia handled the pandemic successfully?
Prior to the most recent episode in Georgia's political crises, COVID-19 was the country's main concern. Yet, data on how the public views the country's handling of the crisis shows a stark partisan divide.
It has been a year since the first case of coronavirus was detected in Georgia. Since then, over 260,000 cases have been confirmed, over 3,300 fatalities, and the economy has suffered the largest decline since 1994. In light of this, how does the Georgian public assess the country’s handling of the pandemic?
Data from the 2020 Caucasus Barometer survey offers a snapshot of how well people think the country did in dealing with the outbreak.
UNM supporters are especially pessimistic about their economic future
With the pandemic still raging and accompanying economic restrictions still in force, Georgians are unsurprisingly pessimistic about their economic future. This holds true especially for supporters of the opposition United National Movement Party, above all other party supporters.
COVID-19 restrictions have impacted people’s economic activity heavily. This is reflected in key economic indicators such as GDP, which declined by 5.9% year on year between January and November 2020.
It is also reflected in employment, with fewer people reporting starting new jobs and more people reporting having lost one, according to the 2020 Caucasus Barometer.
Грузини хочуть, щоби їхній уряд підтримав Україну
Війна Росії з Україною шокувала світ. Вона також шокувала Грузію, а нове опитування від CRRC Georgia викриває ступінь наявних політичних наслідків.
Наслідки війни, що стосуються зовнішньої та внутрішньої політики Грузії, виявилися доволі масштабними. Офіційна позиція Грузії щодо війни була суперечливою: в той час як прем’єр-міністр Іраклі Гарібашвілі категорично заявив, що Грузія не приєднається до санкцій, накладених Заходом проти Росії, президент Грузії Саломе Зурабішвілі почала медійний та дипломатичний бліц у Європі, висловлюючи рішучу підтримку Україні.
How do Georgians feel about the influx of Russians?Recent CRRC data shows that a large majority of the Georgian public is concerned about the migration of Russians to Georgia.
Since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, at least 1.2 million Russian citizens have entered Georgia, equivalent to roughly 30% of Georgia’s population. While the number of Russian citizens who have decided to stay in Georgia remains unclear, the impact of this mass migration is strongly felt in rising rents and concerns over the country’s security.